MWWC #35: Eclipse

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On August 21, 2017, the United States saw something it has not seen in nearly a century: a total solar eclipse path traveling across the entire continental United States.  The last time any of the mainland United States was able to see a total solar eclipse was 1979–and that was only for a handful of northwestern states.

In case you’re a bit confused why I’m talking about the recent solar eclipse during a Monthly Wine Writing Challenge–don’t panic!  It’s because this month’s topic, as selected by last month’s winner, Erik of Red, White, and Cru is eclipse.  Thankfully, Jeff extended the original deadline because well, between an emergency appendectomy for me and a urinary tract blockage and 8-day hospital stay for the cat, I’ve barely looked at my laptop let alone opened it and (gasp!) actually written something!

Before I start in on the wine writing part of this challenge, I did want to share this beautiful composite image of the eclipse over Nashville by Richard Sparkman, which I found when I was researching ideas about which to write.

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Oh and perhaps it’s the wine in my glass, but also befitting this month’s theme is the MWWC logo (created by the Armchair Sommelier), which totally looks like a wine eclipse…

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Yes, I’m totally stalling.  Mainly because I had all these grandiose ideas about tasting and writing about  wines with the name eclipse–or perhaps solar–in them and then, well, life happened.

So change of plan.  Rather than talking to you today about wine, I thought I would talk to you today about winemaking.  Ha–bet you weren’t expecting that!

Here’s the grand total of what I know about winemaking: it’s exceptionally expensive and requires an enormous amount of hard work.

BUT, if you want to be slightly adventurous and try your hand at being a vintner without breaking the bank, sacrificing your first born child, and working 20-hour days/7 days a week then perhaps you should try a wine making kit.

I’ll pause a few seconds to let you gasp in horror and clutch your wine glass closer to your chest.

Yes.  You read that correctly, I said winemaking kit.  In fact if you’re reading this and wine isn’t necessarily your adult drink of choice, it seems that there is now a homemaking kit for pretty much any kind of alcohol in which you like to partake–wine, beer, whiskey, rum, sake, gin–much to the BFFs dismay when I got her hubby a beer making kit for his bday this year!

I know that winemaking kits have been around for awhile, but I was never really interested in them because it seemed like your only options were chardonnay, merlot, or white zin (gag, no, and ohhellno respectively).

So how does this tie in (even remotely) to this month’s theme of eclipse?  Well very conveniently for me, Winexpert makes an Eclipse series of winemaking kits–and they sound pretty fancy…and tasty…and has me pondering if perhaps I might rethink my hand at oenology!

Here is the product description from Winexpert, along with the varietals they offer in the Eclipse series.  Btw, I’m not getting paid in any way, shape, or form by Winexpert–but if they wanted to send me a few kits, I’d be more than happy to try them out!

Ultra premium wine kits are made with the finest quality varietal juice from around the world to produce wines that will satisfy the tastes of even the most discerning wine enthusiasts.

  • Barossa Valley Shiraz with Grape Skins
  • German Mosel Valley Gewürztraminer
  • Italian Piedmont Nebbiolo with Grape Skins
  • Lodi Old Vines Zinfandel with Grape Skins
  • Lodi Ranch 11 Cabernet Sauvignon with Grape Skins
  • Napa Valley Stag’s Leap District Merlot with Grape Skins
  • New Zealand Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
  • Nocturnal Limited Release with Grape Skins
  • Sonoma Dry Creek Valley Chardonnay
  • Sonoma Valley Pinot Noir
  • Washington Columbia Valley Riesling
  • Washington Yakima Valley Pinot Gris

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Now you don’t have to wait for the next eclipse–you can make your own! <— Yeah, I’m totally aware of how cheesy that was, but I’m leaving it in here because, well, what goes better with wine than cheese?!?!?

Okay, okay I’ll stop with the cheesiness because now I’d like to hear from you:

Cheers!

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MWWC 34: Memory

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I have often said that the best part of wine is sharing it with someone.  As such, there are some wines and/or wineries that will always and forever remind me of a specific person, like Teresa & Grape Creek or Nerida & Chandon.  Or even Matthew & Silver Oak–ironically not because we’ve consumed copious amount of Silver Oak, but because we arrived at their tasting room 5 minutes after they closed and I might have had a momentary meltdown that ended 4 seconds later with Matthew flatly informing me to get back in the car or he was going back to San Jose without me.

In case you’re wondering what this has to do with Hawaii: nothing.  What it has to do with is that this month’s wine writing challenge (#34), as selected by last month’s winner Kent of Appetite for Wine, is MEMORY.

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I was trying to figure out which wine holds the most memories for me, however, I realized that was a bit like picking a favorite child.  Instead, I decided to pick a winery.

I’ve talked about the Chisholm Trail Winery before.  I mean, any winery that can get me to love their merlot is quite special indeed–and their 1994 Merlot did just that.  But their cabernets–spectacular: fruity, but dry with just a tiny bit of spice and oh-so-smooth.

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But the wines aren’t the reason that I picked this winery.

Perhaps you might think that it has to do with winemaker, Paula K. Williamson, who is charismatic, has an infectious laugh, and is almost never seen without her signature black Stetson.  But no, while Paula is fabulous and I adore her, she is not the reason either.

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You might even think that it’s because Christi & I spent one hot August day helping Paula & crew pick grapes in the vineyard and then watched the bottling process while sampling some of the winery favorites.  It was a long, fun-filled, exhausting day, but no.  That’s not it either.

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The reason Chisholm Trail Winery holds so many memories for me has nothing to do with wine at all.  It is because the land where the winery sits used to be owned by my family.  Specifically my great-great Uncle Hugo.  Hugo was my grandfather’s uncle and we spent a lot of time at Uncle Hugo’s because he had the best fishing hole in the county.  As a young girl I spent hours and hours at the creek behind the house, which now runs long the south side of the vineyards.  I spent hours running around the old, gigantic trees scattered around the now-winery picking flowers for Granny, who rarely came with us.

It’s been probably 35 years since I last went fishing with Uncle Hugo, but every time I open a bottle of Chisholm Trail wine, memories flood back.  I feel the sun on my face, the cool water tickling my feet, and can hear Uncle Hugo’s hearty laugh.  There are many reasons to love Chisholm Trail winery and their wines.  But for me, I love it because tastes like home.

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Cheers!

 

 

Have Wine? Will Travel!

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This month’s wine writing challenge is TRAVEL, as selected by last month’s winner: the hilarious and enlightening Loie of Cheap Wine Curious.

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Of course, my first thought was to write about Napa, the first place I traveled for wine–but then I remembered I’ve already written about my trip and since I haven’t had the chance to go back, there’s nothing new to report.

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Then I thought about allllllll the places in France and Italy I passed through many, many moons (aka decades) ago that I’d love to go back and visit now that I have a true appreciation for the beauty and intricacies of champagnes and burgundies and amarones (ohmy!)–but then I realized that this post may never end.

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So then I thought about all the amazing Texas Hill Country wineries around where I grew up, which seemed apropos since I’m traveling (see what I did there?) down there at the end of the week–but then I realized that I should wait and do a bit of exploring of all the new wineries that have popped up since the last time I visited.

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Then I thought about cleverly describing how going to the wine store is like traveling around the world–but about the same moment that idea popped into my head, so did another:

Hawaiian Mead.

I know, I know you’re probably thinking “no, no…go back to writing about the wine store/traveling the world idea!”  But nope!  Hang on to your hats, we’re traveling to Hawaii!

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If you know me in real life or follow me on InstagramTwitter, or Facebook (shameless plug!), you will know that last September I went to Hawaii with some amazing friends.  While on the stunningly picturesque island of Kauai, we stumbled across the Koloa Rum Company.  By stumble, I mean April quickly learned she was traveling with lushes people who enjoyed sampling local adult beverages and she was trying to keep us appeased.

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But of course, this writing challenge is about wine, not rum (although THAT would be awesome!).  Having had a great time at Koloa, we (aka April, who was quicker with her google-searching fingers since she was giving away her rum samples) looked for other local places that made adult beverages.

While on the Big Island we visited the Kona Brewing Company, and so despite having not seen a grape growing anywhere in Hawaii’s lush and volcanic landscape, we were hopeful that we could find a winery.

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Alas, no grape winery…but BINGO! we found Nani Moon Meadery!  Now I will confess that I’ve never been a huge fan of mead, however, when in Rome…

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Nani Moon is in the back of a shopping center in Kapa’a.  We pull up, walk in, and, well, started tasting!  It seemed pointless not to try the full line-up, so we did.

For those of you out there who are unaware, mead is wine (although it can also be beer) made from honey instead of grapes.  It’s been around since…forever (and I’m pretty sure that’s an accurate timeframe!).  Much more sustainable, when you’re smack dab in the middle of the Pacific ocean and you have access to local apiaries.

As Stephanie (the owner) took us through each wine, she paired it with an appropriate snack and talked about where she sourced the honey (they weren’t all the same!).  I think my favorite was the Laka’s Nectar, which was the driest and most crisp of the wines.  While a little too sweet for me, the Cacao Moon was a big hit–understandable, given its chocolate undertones and velvety chocolate finish.  Stephanie definitely got bonus points for her Deviant Beehavior, which packs a kick as it is not only made from honey, but also chili!

We finished the tasting with some of the local honeys that she used, which was great–not only because they were delicious, but because you could really taste how much the nuances in the honey affected the taste of the wine.

If you’re interested in learning more, visiting, or throwing caution to the wind and just buying a bottle, contact Stephanie and tell her what you like.  I’m quite confident she will find you something you’ll truly enjoy and give you suggestions on pairings to help you enjoy it more!  She even has a cocktail section that encourages you to “bee inspired and mix it up!”

It was a great way to spend a couple of hours–and I think that if you find yourself smack dab in the middle of the Pacific on a tiny island named Kauai, you should go visit Stephanie and try her meads.  I’m not going to say that meads are now my favorite type of wine, but I did walk away with a better appreciation for just how versatile a wine made from honey can be.  And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Aloha!

Aloha Summer Vacation!

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Sorry for the impromptu month off!  It has been–to say the very least–a crazy summer.  Not that I’ve been traveling, but rather, I’ve been visited by travelers (yay!). Additionally, it has been chaotic at work and there are a plethora of other things not even worth mentioning.  Of course, I didn’t mean to be neglectful in my writing–I just had thoughts of I’ll do it tonight, tomorrow morning, this weekend, definitely for the monthly wine writing challenge…but no…nothing.

I was a little less of a slacker on shezzaspeak, mainly because I’ve just been posting pictures.  When I do write actual posts they tend to be much shorter than here or they feature the princess, of whom I can write about ad nauseam (for the masses, that is–I never get tired of it!).

The ironic thing is that while I haven’t been writing, I have actually been working a schedule of posts for when I am in Hawaii (THE one thing worth mentioning!).

That’s right, I said HAWAII!!!!!  By the way, if I were typing this on my phone I would have totally followed that statement with a slew of rainbow, palm tree, volcano, and surfing emoji.  Not that I surf, but well, I feel like it’s quintessential Hawaii.

This is a trip that has been several years in the making, as we were actually supposed to go last year, but something came up.  Then it was planned for this spring–and again, something came up.  Fearing the trip would never happen, we finally just picked some dates, booked hotels and planes, and viola: HAWAII!!  We are now in the planning everything we want to see, eat, and do stage (which is what really is taking up the majority of my writing time…well, that and random Netflix marathons)!  The great part of this trip is that my friend worlds are converging, as I’m going with April, Christi, and Tracy.  Of course, this means that there won’t be separate trips to see them this year, but IT’S HAWAII (yes, you can expect me to yell that out at least 93 more times in this post!)!!

So in honor of our upcoming trip to HAWAII!, I found an article on Mental_Floss that I thought would be fun to share:

15 Things You Might Not Know About Hawaii

1. There are only 13 letters in the Hawaiian alphabet and every word—and syllable—ends with one of five vowels.

2. That apostrophe-like mark you see in some Hawaiian words is called an ʻokina. It’s a consonant that signifies a slight pause. If two words seem to be spelled exactly alike, but one has an ʻokina, you’re looking at two different words. For example, “moa” means “chicken,” while “moʻa” means “cooked.”

3. The state of Hawaii consists of eight main islands, the biggest of which is called, you guessed it, the Big Island. The Big Island’s official name is Hawai’i.

4. The Big Island’s getting bigger—by more than 42 acres each year—thanks to Kīlauea Volcano. It’s been erupting for 30 years! Mauna Loa, one of the world’s largest volcanoes, is also on the Big Island. Astronauts once trained for moon voyages by walking on its hardened lava fields. Most recently, six NASA-funded researchers spent months on the northern slope simulating a Mars space station.

5. Hawaii is the only U.S. state that commercially grows coffee, cacao, and vanilla beans. (Also: It can take up to five years to grow a single vanilla bean.)

6. The Aloha State’s also good at growing… people. It’s got the highest life expectancy in the United States (81.3 years), despite the fact that…

7. The people of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the U.S.

8. No matter how old you are or how long you’ve lived in the state, only people with Hawaiian ancestry are called “Hawaiians.” People of non-Hawaiian ancestry—even those born and raised there—call themselves “locals.”

9. One Hawaiian: Thermion grallator, also known as the happy face spider for a great picture–go to the Mental Floss article!

10. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Hawaii has the highest percentage of Asian Americans (38.6 percent) and multiracial Americans (23.6 percent) in the United States. It also has the lowest percentage of white Americans (24.7 percent).

11. In Hawaii, no celebration’s complete without a lei. And the flower garlands come with strict rules. For starters, it’s impolite to refuse a lei, remove it in front of the person who gave it to you, or wear one that you intend to give to someone else. A lei should never be thrown away. Instead, it should traditionally be returned to the earth, ideally to where its flowers were gathered. And it’s bad luck to give a tied lei to a pregnant woman, as it suggests an umbilical cord around a baby’s neck.

12. The state gem isn’t a standard mineral. Black coral is technically an animal, but it’s often used to make jewelry.

13. The Aloha State is one of four that have outlawed billboards. (The others are Alaska, Maine, and Vermont.)

14. Snakes are also outlawed. The only legal serpents are housed in zoos.

15. When you picture a beautiful Hawaiian getaway, you might imagine a black or white beach. They also come in yellow, red, and green.

Snakes are outlawed?  Hmmm….perhaps not just a vacation, but research for permanently relocating??  Ya’ll would come to visit, right? 😉

HAWAII!!!!!